Bennet, Axne Introduce New Legislation to Increase Economic Opportunity for Farmers, Ranchers, and Rural Communities

Bill Would Create ARPA–Terra, a New Research Agency to Invest in Early Stage Research on Innovative Agricultural Technologies that Enhance Environmental Sustainability, Export Competitiveness, and Crop Resilience

Washington, D.C. – Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and U.S. Representative Cindy Axne (IA-3) announced they have introduced new legislation to create the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Terra (ARPA–Terra), a new agency at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to invest in innovative agricultural technologies that increase economic opportunity for farmers, ranchers, and rural communities.

“At a time when American farmers and ranchers are facing extreme weather and low commodity prices, it is more important than ever to invest in research that will form the building blocks for major technological breakthroughs to advance American agriculture,” said Bennet. “ARPA–Terra will utilize the successful ARPA model to develop innovative technologies and new tools for our farmers and ranchers, and will strengthen American global leadership in agricultural research and development.”

“American farmers have always been on the cutting edge of utilizing new technology to produce more and do more,” said Axne. “Iowa has led the way in Agriculture research and development, from Iowa State to John Deere, and the Iowan farmer who is a consistent scientist and inventor in the field. APRA–Terra will help our researchers continue to lead the way in Agriculture science and development.” 

ARPA–Terra utilizes the proven ARPA model that has facilitated the success of federally funded research and development in programs like DARPA and ARPA-E, and builds on the Agriculture ARDA (AGARDA) pilot program that was authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill. 

ARPA–Terra would provide competitive funding to land-grant universities for early stage research on technologies that industry might not undertake due to the long-term and high-risk technological barriers that exist. The agency will enable the United States to develop technologies – and put them in the hands of American farmers and ranchers – to enhance export competitiveness, environmental sustainability, and crop resilience to extreme weather.

“ARPA–Terra is an important proposal to address key challenges in agriculture with new models of public and private partnerships.  Senator Bennet's leadership brings focus on these issues that impact farmers and agriculture more broadly,” said Alan Rudolph, Vice President for Research, Colorado State University. 

“In an era of low commodity prices, rural America lacks the ability to invest in high risk research needed to achieve greater efficiencies or reach new markets. Research takes foresight and time to execute. Now is the time to invest,” said Mark Sponsler, CEO of Colorado Corn. 

“We need investment in new technologies that can keep American farmers ahead in our increasingly global marketplace.  ARPA–Terra will promote technological advances thru investment in our land-grant institutions, federal research stations and public/private partnerships that have proven to be great innovators,” said Brad Erker, Executive Director of the Colorado Association of Wheat Growers. 

ARPA–Terra is also supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation and Iowa Farm Bureau. 

The bill text is available HERE.